“A girl comes of age against the knife.”
So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty and violence–both from outside the family, and also, devastatingly, from within. The lush landscape, rich with birdsong, wild fruit, and blazing stars, becomes a kind of refuge for Betty, but when her family’s darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.
But despite the hardship she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters, and her father’s brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. She recounts the horrors of her family’s past and present with pen and paper and buries them deep in the dirt–moments that has stung her so deeply, she could not tell them, until now.
Inspired by the life of her own mother, Tiffany McDaniel sets out to free the past by telling this heartbreaking yet magical story–a remarkable novel that establishes her as one of the freshest and most important voices in American fiction.
“A stunning, lyrical novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in which a young girl discovers stark truths that will haunt her for the rest of her life.”
Where to even begin with this one?
When Tiffany got in touch with me, she made sure to mention that this book would appeal to a horror reader – such as myself. And let me tell you, she was right.
I’m not talking about the typical haunted houses, possessions, or creatures… no. I’m all too comfortable around them, they’re old friends of mine.
What Tiffany was talking about is something deeper, scarier. True horror, in my opinion. The kind of horror that breaks a grown man.
“You give me a wall, and I’ll give you a hole. You give me a window, and I’ll give you a break. You give me water, and I’ll give you blood.” —BETTY
This book is pure magic.
The characters are so real and alive that you can almost feel their presence. The story flows beautifully through Tiffany’s writing.
‘Betty’ is one of the best books I’ve read in 2020.
Quite honestly a perfect book.
The good news is that I still haven’t read ‘The Summer that Melted Everything’. And now I’m even more excited to check it out.
Thanks for sharing your magic with us, Tiffany.